Joe Weber* - University Of Alabama
Selima Sultana - University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The United States national park system contains places of world renowned beauty and tremendous historical significance that represent some of the central values and experiences in American culture, democracy and freedom for everyone, for all time. However, the vast majority of visitors to these parks are white, which has increasingly been seen as a problem as it suggests a lack of full participation by all members of society. While there are several perspectives on low minority visitation, it is possible that park policies or interpretation may not appeal to, or may unintentionally exclude minority visitors. This study examines how efforts to expand the inclusiveness and representativeness of the park system may affect its geography. Recent National Park Service plans to commemorate the Civil Rights movement are examined with the goal of understanding how the geography and purpose of the park system may be changed over time. The expansion of the park system into cultural themes will likely necessitate a continual expansion of the number and kinds of park units.